Missouri State Archives: Finding Aid 5.1

Mormon War Papers, 1837-1841

[ Full-text transcription of: Letter from General John B. Clark, 1st Division of Missouri Militia, Richmond, MO to Governor Boggs, Jefferson City, MO ]
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                                    Head Quarters. Richmond

                                                            Nov: 14th 1838.

His Exy Gov. Boggs.

                                                Sir—In my last commu:

:nication I informed you of all the important

incidents of the expedition up to that time.

On Tuesday last we commenced the examination of

the alleged crimes (being treason, murder, bur:

:glary, arson & larceny) against Jo. Smith and

his Co leaders, & also forty six others who oc:

:cupy less space, amongst their people, but

many of whom are equally guilty.  The defend:

:ants have employed Messrs. Rees and Don:

:iphan to defend them, who are both present.

            The enquiry as you may well imagine takes

a very extensive range and involves many

important legal principles, not often adverted

to in our practice, & being as I consider too import:

:ant to be made out against the prisoners.  I,

at the suggestion of Mr. Burch, the Circuit

Attorney, spoke to Col. W. T. Wood to assist in the

prosecution, promising him to lay the matter be:

:fore your excellency, not doubting but what

some provision would be made, by which he would

have paid to him a reasonable fee.  This was not

done because I doubted Mr. Burch’s ability

in the least, for he is a good lawyer, and enters

into this matter with his whole energy, but

there are so many points stirred, & so much labor

to arrange the facts, so as to make them

bear on the various defendants, that I did not

wonder he should ask assistance, and for the

good of the State I spoke to Col: Wood as above

stated, & he is very willingly engaged with Mr.

Burch.  We progress slowly, but thus far

the disclosures indicate certain conviction of

treason against Smith, Wight, Pratt, Rigdon

& some one or two more, and of murder against

some five or six.  Burglary against several

arson against a number, & larceny against

others.  How it will all result, I cannot yet

tell, but that the leaders will all be convicted

of treason or murder, I think is reasonably certain

& many others of felony.  You shall be informed

as we progress.

            I received this evening a commu:

:nication from Genl. Wilson, who had been

despatched to Daviess County, a copy of which

I enclose you, from which you will discover

that things are becoming as well settled

there as can be, under the circumstances thoughs

they & would have been much better settled if

your orders had have been complied with before

my arrival.  It seems to me if proper steps

had been taken, to save the active leaders, they could

all have been captured.  The protection Genl. Wil:

:son alludes to my giving the mormons in

Caldwell, I explained to you in my last com:


            I regret exceedingly to learn that

any acts of yours should create any heart

:burnings, or collision with your Excellency

and any general officer, and particularly

to such an extent as I understand exists with

Genl. Atchison.  Your motives doubtless were

good, your orders were undoubtedly [“were” crossed out] right

as to the mormons and my command and

I have no doubt the whole country will sus:

:tain you.  Business of a very urgent nature

compels me to leave here on tomorrow for

Fayette, where I will arrive on sunday leaving

Lt: Col: Price, a competent officer here until

my return.  I will only remain in Fayette

until Tuesday or Wednesday next, when I shall

return here to remain until this whole prose:

:cution is settled or put in such a Condition

that a military force is unnecessary.  It is

thought that the investigation will last for

two or three weeks—

                                    I am, sir, your obdt: Servt:

                                                John B. Clark.

                                                Maj: Genl: Comg—

                                                Genl Clark




                                                Nov. 14, 1838

                                                Nov: 12 & 14